the missed spaces, the missed places, the missed times, the missed rhymes, the missed persons I could have been or will be, the fear that restricts me, the choices that elate me, the food that prolongs, the life that kills and opens and winds up and scares and tears and screws, inspires and heightens and pitches and rolls and drowns and crowns and takes hold of and molds and breaks and pours into and empties and burns.

and here we steal away together

III ∆The Prompt

Eyelids flutter. Do not open, but oscillate.  

 

And with the elimination of sight, my inward focus is honed and pulled toward a minute sensation. A single bead of sweat has escaped the hair of my underarm and sets out on a southward journey. I follow its movement, prompted by the pendulum of techno pumping its rhythm against my skin. I can feel the droplet quivering with the bass and I invite myself to focus on this distinct point, to see where it will lead me.

 

I am a gliding bird watching its shadow cast on the landscape below. I both follow this shadow, and command it.

 

The bead of sweat has paused on the inside of my upper arm. It hesitates momentarily, as if at a crossroads. I wait behind, until my leader slips forward, downward, slightly leftward. The bead appears to know its destination. I slid after it, appreciating the act of following, indulging in the flow of this miniscule current. I experience the coolness of its trail as it rides the slope of my bicep and collects itself in the cusp of my inner elbow. An ephemeral tide pool swells.

 

With a mind all its own my right hand whisks forward, heeding to the mounting music. It breaks the dam and a wall of salt water rushes downward.

 

The bead enters my wrist-land, spilling into a crevasse between two thin, flexible bones. My hand is open and fingers are reaching and I accompany the bead as it careens along a vein. Like a sprinter finding speed which has nothing to do with training but only to do with desire, it accelerates toward its destination. Still, I do not know where we are headed.

 

Until we arrive. I smile. The finish line is a callus on the left side of my middle finger. For years I had forgotten about this part of my body, this shield I had created. The bead of sweat hangs on this mass of toughened skin. It washes this armor. Shines it so that I might see.

 

I am pulled back to a time before words. A time of body and imagination romping together as one. A time when the body was a culmination of characters. And this hand was the maker and the artist, but also the scratcher and the carrier. It was both the explorer and the slave. And it held its tools with such urgency and so often that a callus formed, grew with me and never left me. I remember how my left hand was envious of right hand’s abilities. And how my right hand was envious of my left hands beauty, of its callus free fingers. I remember how these feelings awakened an interior world, a dialogue between mind and body, between thinker and maker. I remember the innumerable conversations between body parts, how they felt about each other, what they wanted, how they were both a part of me and also autonomous entities all their own.

 

I smile at my callus. I laugh at myself, as I remember how I tried to pick it off once. Once when I thought it was ugly. I cut a divot into it with my thumbnail. But the callus persisted, it grew thicker and stronger, even better at what it was made for.

 

I swing forward, to the present, down my arm and along my hand, along the dried river bed. The sweat bead stings the callus, baths it, feeds it, and then leaves it, departing to the floor.

 

The bird lands and sits a top its own shadow.

V ∆Markings

II ∆The Level